ZERO DARK THIRTY

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Overall Impression
 – Not uninteresting, but not involving.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who is your main character? – Driven CIA operative, Maya.

What is she trying to accomplish? –  Physical – Find Osama bin Laden.  Emotional – Find Osama bin Laden.  Spiritual – Find Osama bin Laden. (Notice something wrong here?)

Who’s trying to stop her? – The forces within the CIA that don’t trust her instincts.

What happens if she fails? –  Osama will continue to evade capture and direct terrorism around the world.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Maya is a relatively new CIA agent in Pakistan (it’s only two years after 9/11).

Wanderer – Maya continues to track down leads that brings her closer to discovering the location of bin Laden.

Warrior – Maya’s co-worker is killed in a double-cross and Maya vows to find everyone responsible and ‘smoke them.’  She eventually finds a compound that she believes houses bin Laden.

Martyr – Maya sticks her neck out with her superiors and says that she’s 100% sure that bin Laden is in the compound.  They decide to go in based on her confidence.  Seal Team Six goes in at great personal risk and accomplish their mission.

AND, IN THE END…

Jessica Chastain’s Maya is absolutely singularly focused on her mission to find Osama bin Laden.  This is the point of her character.  She was recruited into the CIA straight out of high school and by the time the film ends she’s been in the CIA for 12 years and HAS DONE NOTHING ELSE BUT HUNT BIN LADEN.  That is the movie; the story of a woman who, for most of her adult life, has done one thing only to the exclusion of everything else.  And noble as that one thing is, it doesn’t make for a compelling main character, even in the shadow of Ms. Chastain’s Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.

Because we all know how the story of bin Laden’s capture ends the movie plays like an extended character piece about a driven woman, with it leading up to the big question Maya is asked at the very end of the story.  She sits in the belly of a C-130 cargo plane, alone, and the Corpsman who lets her aboard asks her where she wants to go?  Maya has no answer.  There’s no one waiting for her, no apartment to move back into, no stack of mail at a neighbors waiting to be picked up.  With bin Laden dead she’s got nothing and she knows it.  And as the audience, so do we.

And that’s just not enough for either of us.

– Jeffrey Alan Schechter

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